Hating Brenda of '90210' begets a small industry

August 17, 1993|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

Remember all the advice your mother gave you about getting along with others? That no good ever comes from gossip, and how, if you couldn't say something nice about a person, it was better to say nothing at all?

Well, Mom may have known manners, but she didn't know beans about marketing.

Just ask Kerin Morataya and Darby Romeo. So far, the two have made a second career out of saying not-very-nice things about Shannen Doherty, the bad-publicity-prone actress who plays Brenda Walsh on the Fox series "Beverly Hills, 90210." First, there was "The I Hate Brenda Newsletter," a wonderfully nasty tattle sheet full of spurious tales and rude doings. And now, there's "Hating Brenda" (Caroline 1741, arriving in stores today), a whole album of spiteful (and often quite funny) songs about Ms. Walsh.

And between them, the two projects have made Morataya, 22, and Romeo, 24, rich and famous.

OK, maybe not rich. After all, the newsletters originally went for a dollar, although later printings upped the price to $1.49.

But fame they got in spades. "Me and Darby are great at coming up with these concepts," laughs Morataya, over the phone from Los Angeles. The media buzz generated by "I Hate Brenda" bears her out. Not only were there write-ups in People, Time, Newsweek and Variety, but the duo's offices were flooded with phone calls and subscription requests.

" 'Brenda' kind of really threw us for a loop," admits Morataya. "We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we did it. We did no press. We did absolutely nothing. And all of a sudden, we're getting like 20 phone calls a day."

Unexpectedly besieged, the two turned to their friend Tom Grimley, a recording engineer and musician. Darby (she, like Madonna, rarely uses her last name) had met him at the College Media Journal convention in New York.

"The phone was just constantly ringing with people wanting to do interviews, and we'd go over to his house," says Morataya. "And we just started singing songs about Brenda. And then one night me and Darby just came up with this harebrained idea: Why don't we pitch this to a record company?"

The result was Rump, the trio responsible for most of "Hating Brenda."

Musically, "Hating Brenda" runs the gamut from rock ("Every Day Is Brenda Day," the first single) to rap ("Choot 'Er") to techno ("Who Is Brenda?"). Thematically, however, it sticks close to a single idea: That Brenda is a rhymes-with-witch.

Still, Morataya insists that there's nothing mean-spirited about the project. "It's not done maliciously, it's just done in fun," she says. "Really, if you can't laugh at yourself and you can't laugh at the scene that you're in, then you're just as bad as anyone else. I make fun of myself all the time."

But does Brenda -- meaning Doherty -- find this at all amusing? If not, she hasn't communicated her displeasure to Morataya and Romeo.

"We never heard anything from them," says Morataya. A good thing, too, considering that "Beverly Hills, 90210" producer Aaron Spelling threatened suit against the Fox TV show "The Edge" for its "90210" parody that mocked his daughter, actress Tori Spelling.

Morataya isn't worried, though. "Personally, I think that Aaron loved [the newsletter]," she says. "I think that he loves Shannen's antics -- because of the press that it brings."

"Every Day Is Brenda Day"

(excerpt)

It's Shannen on the left

It's Shannen on the right

It's Shannen in a car

It's Shannen in a bar

Oh man, she's out of sight

Every day is Brenda Day

You can't shut it off

You can't make it go away

You can't turn off the hook

I can't bear to look

Every day is Brenda Day

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